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SPIDERTEMBER: With Great Casting Power Comes Great Responsibility

Written by Jessie Anderson

Although I am unable to pinpoint my age, I can assure you I was still wrapped heavily in the cotton wool of my parents over-protection. Standing behind my Nan in my Auntie’s living room as my cousin watched a film I got my first glimpse of a Marvel movie and I was enthralled. My eyes widened as needles penetrated the skin of Dr. Otto Octavious and my mouth quirked into a smile as they reached his spinal cord, forcing four metal arms into juddering movement, transforming the scientist into something other. Someone other.

Jessie, meet Doctor Octopus, Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis to be.

Of course, whatever I saw after that was through the forceful fingers of my Nan’s hands as she tried to protect my innocence, but I wasn’t scared. I made a mental note as I listened to Otto scream. I was going to watch this film. And one day I did.

I’ll never be able to thank Sam Raimi enough for the gateway that his movies created. The gateway that led me to become the person that I am today. The kind of person who cosplays at Marvel premieres and buys midnight showing tickets to the IMAX. The kind of person with an intrinsic love for Spider-Man and a permanent place for Peter Parker in their heart.

The summer of 2010 was a tough one for me, as I’m sure it was for many fans of Parker and his alter-ego. There was a big change on the horizon of the Spider-Man franchise. Sony’s reboot held promise, but it also held the menacing threat of change; something that terrifies everybody when it comes to their beloved heroes. Being young and naive, I personally didn’t see how Tobey Maguire‘s Spider-Man could ever be improved upon. And sure, there is a certain charm; a soft glow that allows the cheesiness to go unnoticed. A charisma that makes the dancing in Spider-Man 3 funny and quirky rather than cringey and difficult to watch. But little did I know an online announcement was about to change the way I viewed my favourite superhero. In the same way that Mark Ruffalo brought Bruce Banner back to life, Andrew Garfield showed me that Spider-Man could be cool, dark, complex, and present. Something that, unfortunately, I wasn’t taught by the previous films.

When I saw my first photos of Garfield, I can clearly recall snapping at anybody who spoke to me. I was furious with the choices made and I know for a fact that a lot of other people were sharing my anger. In my experience, when it comes to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe they are venomously opposed to change. There is always unrest and resentment when a new actor is cast and I’m afraid to say I used to be a big part of that mentality. Recently though, I’ve begun to look at reboots and seemingly unreasonable changes with more of an open mind.

I’ve since learned that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover and you can’t judge a movie by its trailer… or its outspoken fans. And it’s begun to make me question what all of the worry is about. Is change really a bad thing? It’s scary, yes. And it’s definitely unnerving. The fate of your  favourite superhero is entirely in the hands of somebody else. They are being pulled apart and reshaped without your permission. But often I’m pleasantly surprised. And what’s the worst that’s going to happen? You’ll have a bad new movie that you can avoid while staying loyal to the originals, or you’ll have the treasured originals and a new film that might re-spark your imagination and love of a character.

When I left the cinema after seeing The Amazing Spider-Man I was (not so ironically) amazed. Here was the character that I had loved since the moment I met him, but renewed and refreshed. Moulded into something similar yet different. He seemed younger, brought into the world I lived in. A world with mobile phones, internet, social media, iPods, hoodies, skinny jeans, and skating. It was more relatable and pulled some brilliant characters from the comics into play while exploring darker themes than any of the old films dared to. It was everything I wanted and didn’t realize I wanted. I cast the old movies to the back of my mind, filed under ‘Nostalgia’ where they only resurface if I want to be reminded just how good The Amazing Spider-Mans are.

I soon came to realize this wasn’t the first time I’d been surprised by a cast change; however, the success of Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner didn’t deter me from being so skeptical of Garfield. I’d gotten into the habit of not letting go. When a film or character meant a lot to me, I was adamant that nothing needed to change. Just as I’d put on my Hulk fists and sat fuming for days, I’d stomped around the house with my Spider-Man t shirts battering my poor mother with endless complaints. With the Hulk and The Incredible Hulk casting I had every right to be worried but after seeing Avengers Assemble I should have opened my mind to the possibility of positive changes. The more you think about it the more you realize that every single decision has been filtered through a hundred people and it has been made to make the film the best that it can possibly be. Now that Tom Holland has been announced for Captain America: Civil War, I guess I still have my doubts. But I am doing my best to have faith in Marvel’s choices. The point of this is to ask you to do the same.

What do you guys think? Do you have any favourite casting changes or reboots? And do you have any that you wished had never happened? Let us know on our Twitter feed, @AP2HYC, our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AP2HYC, or in the comments below. 

About the author

Jessie Anderson